DeNA Introduces Driverless Bus to Chiba Prefecture of Japan

24 Aug

Following rollout of driverless taxi service “Robot Taxi,” DeNa, a mobile-Internet service provider in Japan, has kicked off driverless bus service, on a trial basis, in Chiba City of Chiba Prefecture, testifying to the nation’s effort in keeping up with current of driverless cars worldwide.

DeNA employs EZ10 electric bus developed by EasyMile of France offering short-term transport service, dubbed “Robot Shuttle,” in Kaihin-makuhari, a newly developed area on reclaimed land in Chiba City. The bus can carry 12 passengers, traveling at 40 kilometers/hour at maximum. The bus cruises along fix routes at 10 kilometers/hour inside a park starting August.

Furnished with a GPS system, laser sensors, and cameras, the bus would slow down or stop once detecting blockades along the route. Takashi Tsujiguchi, DeNA’s Robot Shuttle group leader, pointed out that EasyMile driverless bus can provide transport service in areas where big buses cannot enter. The driverless bus service can help the company cope with the problem of insufficient manpower and save personnel and transportation cost, according to Tsujiguchi.

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DeNa employs EasyMile driverless bus, which can carry 12 passengers, six on seats and six standing (photo courtesy of Sankei News)

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Passengers can open or shut bus door by pressing a button inside or outside the car (photo courtesy of Sankei News).

Due to the ban on driverless cars traveling on public roads in Japan, Robot Shuttle service is now confined to privately owned land. DeNA plans to extend Robot Shuttle service to public and commercial facilities, theme parks, factory compounds, hospitals, or college campuses.

Meanwhile, DeNA set up a joint venture, dubbed Robot Taxi, with ZMP, a driverless technology firm, in 2015, for engaging in driverless transport business. A driverless taxis developed by the joint venture with an eponymous title is undertaking road tests, targeting commercial run by Tokyo Olympics in 2020. EasyMile is carrying out road test for its driverless bus in Helsinki and will do so in Dubai, after inking an agreement with Dubai government recently. Thanks to vigorous promotion of many governments, driverless transport is expected to develop by leaps and bounds and will become part and parcel of human life in the near future.

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